You can find two dozen moments from last night's game when the Bobcats could have swung the game the other way... and another couple dozen moments when they got away with something that kept them close to the 76ers. As noted last night, I suspect we're seeing an uptick in offense, but we'll need more time to let the team's new talent level get established. The good news is that we hung with the Sixers, and if that's where we are for real, then luck will push us the other way the next time.
I think we're going to see three main stories developing in the coming month, at least until December 15th, when more players will become eligible to be traded:
1 -- The Cats' three point shooting either has to get better, or they have to shoot fewer threes, because they haven't shown they're good enough, as a team, to constantly take those shots. Sure, when they're making them at a reasonable rate, it's a good play for a team that's less talented than the competition, but we're still below 30% for the season.
2 -- Free throw shooting is a major problem. Charlotte sits 28th in the league right now at 70% from the line.
3 -- Finally, we cleared two rotation guys out for one in the Jackson trade. Doesn't that mean the untested guys now have minutes available to be, you know, tested? At the least, Gerald Henderson should build up to 20 minutes a night by March, and the others (Derrick Brown, Alexis Ajinca, random D-Leaguers) have got to play just about every game. This comes down to whether or not you think the team is playing for now or next season, or the year after. If they're playing for now, they've got to play an eight man rotation almost every night and squeeze the minutes out of Wallace and Jackson. Otherwise, everyone else has to play.
Highlights and lowlights from the Sixers game after the jump:BAD
-- Tyson Chandler's back and Boris Diaw's back spasms. Chandler's injury was, apparently, worse, keeping him out for all but about 15 minutes. Here's hoping they don't miss more time.
-- It's all marginal. When S-Jax shoots 9-21, but gets 26 points, he's not shooting well, which turns the ball over to the other team (more often than not), but getting to the line for 8 free throw attempts offsets that inefficiency. He's also forward-ish, so he can rebound, but that's only offsetting his turnovers. In other words, the 15-16 PERs year after year are making all kinds of sense. If Jackson's going to represent a real step forward, he has to play at the high end of his potential, and, point total aside, this isn't it.
-- 19 turnovers. Ouch. But that's right in line with what the Cats have been doing all year, with the 5th most turnovers in the league.
-- Gerald Wallace continues to step up and rebound in Chandler's and Diaw's stead. This seems like it's partly a function of opportunity, but Wallace is converting those opportunities. 12 more boards tonight. Despite all that, it's probably too much to ask of him to carry on through the All Star break, and probably too far-fetched to ask of fans and coaches to consider him for a spot on the East.
-- Seriously, Nazr Mohammed has been an excellent bench player this year. Small sample size theatre, I know, but it's amazing to see it happen, against all expectations.
-- D.J. Augustin had possibly his best game of the season. 2-5 from three, 4 assists, and 0 turnovers in about 21 minutes. Good times. Build on it.